Palestinian Activist Abdallah Abu Rahma Faces Up to 5 Years in Prison

Facing up to five years in prison, Palestinian activist Abdallah Abu Rahma will be sentenced by an Israeli military court on January 5, following his October 21 conviction on charges related to a 2012 protest. Abu Rahma was arrested in a demonstration at the Bitunya checkpoint near Israel’s Ofer Military Prison on May 10, 2012. On that day, the demonstration was being held to commemorate the Nakba (the displacement of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948) and in support of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, many of whom were participating in a hunger strike at the time, in protest against the conditions they were being held in and against Israel’s policy of detaining Palestinians without a trial.

Protest at Bil'in against Israel’s separation barrier, April 2011.

Protest at Bil’in against Israel’s separation barrier, April 2011. (Photo: Activestills)

During the demonstration, Israeli forces detained Abu Rahma for standing in front of bulldozers carrying massive concrete barriers to be used in road blocks and to cordon off the area. He was released on bail after only a few hours but was subsequently summoned nine months later, in February 2013, on charges of obstructing a soldier in the line of duty. Abu Rahma is the head of the Popular Committee against the Wall in the occupied West Bank village of Bil’in where weekly protests have been held every Friday for nearly ten years against Israel’s “security” barrier. Abu Rahma actively promotes the use of peaceful means to raise international awareness of the human rights violations suffered by Palestinians due to the barrier, much of which has been built in the occupied West Bank.

Abu Rahma’s upcoming sentence is likely to be extended on account of an earlier suspended sentence he received related to his 2010 conviction on charges including “incitement” and “organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations” between 2005 and 2009. For that conviction he was sentenced to 16 months in prison and given a six-month suspended sentence after the military judge accepted the prosecution’s argument that Abdallah Abu Rahma had encouraged demonstrators in Bil’in to throw stones at Israeli soldiers. This accusation was based on statements made by three children who said that they had been coerced to throw stones. The minors later retracted their statements in court, claiming they did not understand Hebrew, the language in which their statements had been taken down.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank also regularly protest against other repressive policies and practices linked to Israel’s 47-year occupation of the territory. These include the ever-expanding, unlawful settlements established by Israel within the occupied West Bank, house demolitions, military checkpoints, construction of roads reserved for use only by Israeli settlers and from which Palestinians are excluded, and other restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. More than a dozen Palestinian villages and communities in the West Bank which are most directly affected by the location of the barrier or of Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land hold weekly demonstrations to protest against Israeli policies and their impact; among them are the villages of Nabi Saleh, Bil’in, Ni’lin, and Kufr Qadum, as well as urban centers like Hebron and East Jerusalem. Protests are also held against the imprisonment and detention of thousands of Palestinian activists and their treatment in Israeli prisons, and in response to developments such as Israeli military strikes in Gaza and the killing or injuring of Palestinians in protests or during raids.

We ask that you immediately write, whether in Hebrew, Arabic, or English, to the offices of Israel’s prime minister condemning the harassment of Abdallah Abu Rahma and calling on the authorities to ensure that all charges against him be immediately dropped, since they unlawfully abrogate his basic right to peacefully exercise freedom of expression and assembly.

Please send appeals to:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Office of the Prime Minister
3 Kaplan St, PO Box 187
Kiryat Ben-Gurion
Jerusalem 91950, Israel

Email addresses: